Acoustic Signature STORM
Price (in Poland): 19 300 zł (deck only, arm is an option)
Manufacturer: AS-Distribution GmbH
AS-Distribution GmbH | Salacher Str. 88
D-73054 Eislingen | Germany
tel.: 71 613-898-135 | fax: 71 613-898-137
Country of origin: Germany
Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Pictures: Wojciech Pacuła
Translation: Marek Dyba
Date of publication: 01. March 2012, No. 94
Acoustic Signature's turntables are usually heavy (the more expensive the heavier), although relatively not so big. In the company's portfolio you will find classic shaped turntables or the ones that have a round shape as Storm does. The company also offers two versions of the Tango phonostage plus some accessories – felt-mats, record clamps and weights, and so on.
Recordings used during the test (selection):
Already the first record I put on platter - Techno Pop by Kraftwerk - brought to my mind memories of another recording on different medium, namely Savage’s Tonight remaster (review HERE, interview HERE). It was a nicely mastered digital (CD) re-edition with the source material taken from... vinyl record. You should listen to it for yourself – then you would understand my excitement each time I listen to it. It is a very special edition that unlike most recordings of this kind of music does not sound bright or rough. But this recording has it's own sound signature, one that I immediately recognized when I started to play Kraftwerk using the Storm. I should not have been surprised – Damian Lipiński, the person responsible for the transfer of material from vinyl to CD and for remastering of Savage, used an Acoustic Signature turntable (if you want to read more about it please refer to VinylMagic).
The Storm is neither „warm” nor „cold” sounding. Although it sounds more like the Pro-Jects, the Thorens TD 550 and the Kuzma Reference. I mean it offers the same good rhythm, the same powerful attack, and the same nice „flow” of music. Records weaknesses are not „covered up”. If you put dirty or old record on the platter the Storm will show you that quite clearly. It does not emphasize the weaknesses but rather shows them as they are, while separating them from music itself. I already mentioned that several times – high quality turntables are capable of separating all those non-musical elements they pick up from the groove, so that we don't hear them as a part of music, but as something „alongside” music.
You don't need to be vinyl veteran to hear that. The music is presented in a strong, rich fashion. The lower midrange is not so full of energy, as palpable as with Linn, Rega, SME, or Avid turntables – to name just few most obvious examples. One needs to be aware of that to know what to expect. It is not a „romantic” performance – we rather get everything served straight forward. Yes, „straight forward” is a good description of what we get.
The last one surprised me totally, even though I listened to dozens other records before this one (on the Storm). There is this amazing intro in the most beautiful track called Epitafium (Pamięci Piotra), with powerful strikes on cymbals (cymbal…), that is high pitched, vibrant, strong. And a moment later there enters, as if from the outer space, Niemen's dark voice. The Storm was able to combine it smoothly, nicely differentiating different character of those sounds. That's one of the strengths of this turntable – really good differentiation. What it does differentiate best are rhythm, pitch, and depth of the soundstage. So it delivers big sound, with strong rhythm and impressive soundstage depth.
Its strong presentation of treble also helps. I reviewed the Storm with two different Miyajima cartridges – the Kansui and the Shilabe, both offering rather warm, well saturated sound and even these combined with the Storm delivered strong treble. So you should choose your cartridge and phonostage wisely for this deck, most likely rather warm, „round” sounding. I found the B.M.C. Phono (that I reviewed simultaneously for „Audio”) a very good match for the Storm. It delivers powerful bass, nice dynamics, and also differentiation is at least good.
That's what you need to consider when making your decision whether or not to buy this deck. The Acoustic Signature Storm is a very well, truly professionally made product. The company also offers great customer service – for this review I needed a couple of additional things that had to be both posted and e-mailed to me, and the response from the Customer Service was very fast. Some of our Readers who own turntables from this company confirm its great Customer Service (reviewers sometimes might be treated better than customers). I don't need to tell you that Customer Service is a key element of each high-end company. The one of Acoustic Signature is exemplary.
The Storm turntable from the German company Signature is a classic mass-loader, which means that no single component is decoupled from others. It weights 31 kg. Vibration damping is achieved via large mass. The base of the Storm is a round block of aluminum (45 mm thick) – its diameter is a bit bigger than the platter diameter.
The turntable has three aluminum, adjustable feet. On the right-hand side in the back there is an arm base that is attached to the chassis with Allen screw on the track. Thus the armboard may be pulled out to accommodate 12 inch as well as 9 inch tonearms. You can use up to three arms on this deck at the same time. The main bearing is made of hardened steel with hard tungsten carbide ball at its base. The manufacturer claims that they managed to come up with a special design of this bearing so that the rumble is extremely low. The housing of the bearing uses sintered bronze inserts, which do not require any oil. The contact point of the above mentioned ball and the bearing uses a proprietary material developed by Acoustic Signature's engineers called Tidorfolon.
The 50 mm thick, weighting 2 kg platter has diameter slightly bigger than that of a vinyl record, but its edge is beveled which makes record exchange easy. The aluminum alloy used for the platter is of a very soft grade which improves its damping properties. To improve dampening even more there are 8 cut-outs close to the outer edge of the platter filled with brass bolts with rubber rings on both ends. Furthermore, the bottom of the platter is coated with resonance-reducing material. You could place a record directly on the platter but the manufacturer suggests using a leather mat delivered with the deck. It is a quite nice solution but you can achieve much better effects with the Harmonix TU-800EX. It’s pricy but worth every penny.
The torque is transferred to the platter with a long, rubber (square shaped) belt from an aluminum pulley fixed on the motor axle. The motor is equipped with heavy, aluminum enclosure. The Storm uses a synchronous motor – 12 VAC. It is powered via a shielded cable delivering current from a special power supply called Alpha-S. It's a small box with an aluminum front, two toggle switches and a red LED. One switch turns the device on, the other changes the speed. The motor is not too powerful so it helps to give the platter a bit of spin while turning on. Inside the box there is an electronic module converting AC mains voltage to DC current and a precision oscillator that produces a perfect sine wave at 12VAC to run the motor, resulting in a perfectly steady and constant platter rotation